Power of Now – Class 2 Summary

Thanks to all who attended this challenging discussion.  We experienced together how difficult it can be for the mind (small self) to wrap itself around the possibility that we create much more of our pain than is necessary.

Wes

Meeting 2 – Chapter 2: Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain


Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein, 1974

Review of Chapter One: You are not your Mind

Main points

  • If you buy in to your mind’s perception of reality, then you are doomed.
  • Behind the chattering mind lies pure consciousness.
  • You have the ability to put your mind in to neutral, and allow pure consciousness to emerge.
  • Emotion, which is a product of the mind, adds to the fog which obscures consciousness.

Chapter Two

  • Core idea: You can eliminate pain by remaining conscious of the Now.
  • Main points
    • You can let go of past emotional pain.
    • The physical body carries memories of pain which the mind (ss) identifies with.
    • The ss believes that you ARE your pain, so if you let go of your pain, you’ll no longer exist.
    • Instinct fear and psychological fear are not the same.
    • The ss does not trust the wholeness of the AS, so it continually draws us towards victimhood.

Deeper Points

  • Create No More Pain in the Present
    • Emotional pain that we feel is the result of the mind not being Present.
      • Past: guilt, regret, bitterness
      • Future: stress and anxiety
    • My comment: He comes close to suggesting that the AS does not experience pain
      • I’m curious about what he would say about grief and “righteous anger”
      • Still is still a distraction from his main point, that the Now is infected by the past and present.
  • Past Pain: Dissolving the Pain-Body
    • Our bodies, which includes our brains, carry the memory of pain.
    • The degree to which that pain continues to shape us is determined by how we choose to be present to the Now.
    • Developing awareness with the ss pain-body
      • Watch the emotions in your body.
      • Feel them.
      • Don’t label or judge what you feel.
      • Allow the emotions to be there.
  • Ego Identification with the Pain-Body
    • The ss, or ego, believes that you are your pain.
    • The ss wants you to identify pain with Self
      • I am a victim of abuse.
      • I grew up in an abusive home.
  • The Origin of Fear
    • Instinctive fear and psychological fear
      • Instinctive fear, which is real fear, is a response to an actual threat.
      • Psychological fear is fear of things that may happen in the future.
      • (I would add that spiritual fear is anxiety over non-being)
    • Stress and anxiety are psychological fears.
    • Mindfulness of emotion helps a person let go of anxiety.
  • The Ego’s Search for Wholeness
    • the ss struggles to acknowledge the wholeness of the AS
    • the ss says, “I can’t be okay until…”
    • the AS says, “I am becoming more whole.”

Task: Becoming a Witness

  • “Sustained conscious attention severs the link between the pain-body and your thought processes and brings about the process of transmutation.”
  • Tolle notes that being the presence of a highly conscious person also fosters this process.
  • fostering conversation between your ss and your AS
  • developing curiosity rather than judgment.

Power of Now – Class 1 Summary

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Introduction to the Enneagram,  Thursday, April 21,  5:30 to 7:00.  If you would like to attend, please email me at wmeades@gmail.com Cost will be $10 if we can get at least 20 people who want to attend.

Power of Now – Class 1 Summary

Thanks so much to all of you who came to our first meeting last Thursday evening (3/31).  Here’s a summary of what we covered, along with some suggestions for other resources.   Please post your comments, questions, and suggestions below.

Tolle begins his book by asking us to own a single core concept: “You are not your mind.” Or, to put it another way, “You are not your thoughts.”

Tolle then makes 4 sub-points

  • If you buy in to your mind’s perception of reality, then you are doomed.
  • Behind the chattering mind lies pure consciousness.
  • You have the ability to put your mind in to neutral, and allow pure consciousness to emerge.
  • Emotion, which is a product of the mind, adds to the fog which obscures consciousness.

My comments on this were:

  • These are statements of faith, not statements of fact.
  • My definition of faith is simply Living as if something is true even though it cannot be proven true.
  • Tolle’s assertions, though unprovable, are well grounded in the world’s great spiritual traditions.
  • Just like with any faith system, it will only be meaningful if you can make two commitments:
    • I will live as if these things are true.
    • I will practice the disciplines that have been effective in helping others incarnate this faith.

I then asked the question: Why is this so hard to live in to?

  • To paraphrase E.O. Wilson, The brain is a machine designed for survival, not for understanding.
    • Your brain defines a good day according to one simple question, “Am I still alive?”
    • Your brain has a very crude warning system to supposedly help you achieve this goal of staying alive: Anxiety
  • Our friends, the neuroscientists, have helped us understand how our brains develop and function.
  • The tripartite brain
    • reptilian – the most primitive part of the brain, most associated with survival.
    • limbic – the source of emotion and attachment.
    • neocortex – the source of rational thought.
      • Tolle is making the point that the neocortex, our greatest tool as human beings, ends up being our greatest challenge.
      • I suggest that this is due to the ways in which we experience and respond to anxiety.

How do we Start?

  • Your first responsibility is to become acquainted with your small self mind chatter, through mindfulness
  • One of the first chatterings I’d like you to pay attention to is critical judgment.
    • Immature people are judgmental… Mature people are curious
  • Your second responsibility is to become more familiar with the nature of your small self chatter.
    • Everyone’s chatter is unique, yet there seem to be universal patterns of chatter.
    • The Enneagram is a helpful tool for understanding the nature of your anxiety and how it is likely to be expressed in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

I explained my use of the terms small self and Authentic Self.  These terms were coined by Burt Burleson, and correspond to Tolle’s description of the chattering mind versus the centered connection to Being.  I recommend that you read The Authentic Self for a fuller understanding of Burt’s concepts.

I also would like to recommend the following books for those who would like to read ideas very similar to Tolle’s but within a more distinctly religious context:

Next class currently scheduled for 4/28.

Power of Now Study Group

Program: Study Group on Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now
Location: National Lloyds Building, 9th and Austin,  4th Floor
Dates: The last Thursday of each month, beginning March 31
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Cost: No charge (a $10 donation per meeting is requested)
Pre-Registration: email to wacopartnership@gmail.com

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care is sponsoring a study of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The study, which will be led by Dr. Wes Eades, will meet monthly at the West Waco Public Library on Bosque. The first meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Since its publication in 1997, The Power of Now has been read by millions of people worldwide. Tolle insightfully summarizes the heart of the world’s most respected spiritual traditions and offers a practical approach to living out this wisdom.

Dr. Wes Eades has been studying the role of spirituality and faith in mental health since receiving his Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion in 1989. He has read widely in spiritual traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Buddism, and Islam and has great respect for Tolle’s work.

Space is limited.  To pre-register, please send an email to wacopartnership@gmail.com.   There is no charge for this study.  However, a suggested donation of $10 per meeting is requested.

What Does Prayer Do?

Darrell (see note) sent me this link: The Science of Prayer.   The author describes a couple of studies that suggest the practice of prayer shifts the attitude of the person doing the praying.  Unfortunately, there still doesn’t seem to be any research that shows how prayer can influence the Lottery, but hey, if prayer can help me reduce my knuckleheadedness, I guess that’s not a bad pay-off.

Wes

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Note:  No, he doesn’t have another brother Darrell, and extra points to whomever gets the reference

Thursday Evening, June 18: Anxiety, Depression and the Spiritual Journey

WPPSC to host free seminar on the topic

Anxiety, Depression, and the Spiritual Path

with Dr. Wes Eades

please RSVP to wacopartnership@gmail.com

Date: Thursday, June 18
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m (light refreshments served).
Location: St. Albans Episcopal Church Community Outreach Center

anxiety

The short take: People often consider struggles with anxiety and/or depression to be an indication of spiritual immaturity.  Dr. Wes Eades will discuss ways in which these struggles can energize the spiritual journey.

Research indicates that 50% of Americans will wrestle with enough anxiety and depression at some time in their lives to consider suicide (source – see page 3).  Sadly, many persons have been led to believe that such struggles are a sign of spiritual immaturity.  The FACT is that such suffering is an inevitable part of a full and meaningful life.

The Waco Partnership for Psychological and Spiritual Care will be hosting a free two hour presentation by Dr. Wes Eades on how anxiety and depression can actually serve the spiritual journey.  Dr. Eades has over 20 years of experience helping persons overcome the life-narrowing effects of anxiety and depression.  He will be sharing some basic insights from the fields of psychology and spirituality that have proven effective for many people who wrestle with this all too common challenge.

If you, or someone you love, struggles with anxiety and/or depression, the board of WPPSC invites you to participate in this event.

PLEASE RSVP  at 254.498.7176 or via email at wacopartnership@gmail.com

WPPSC is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

<a href="mailto:mattbaehr@example.com">mail to me link</a>

Selflessness, Core Of All Major World Religions, Has Neuropsychological Connection

wppsc-wishes-to-promote

The field of neuroscience is producing, at an astounding rate, fresh information about how our brains work.  Many of the findings have implications for our understanding of what it means to say we are “spiritual.”  These implications can be both enlighenting and troubling.  What follows is the summary of a recent study on the connection between the brain and spirituality.  What implications, if any, do you see for your ministry?

Wes

News release from the University of Missouri-Columbia: Selflessness, Core Of All Major World Religions, Has Neuropsychological Connection

All spiritual experiences are based in the brain. That statement is truer than ever before, according to a University of Missouri neuropsychologist.

An MU study has data to support a neuropsychological model that proposes spiritual experiences associated with selflessness are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain. The study is one of the first to use individuals with traumatic brain injury to determine this connection.

Researchers say the implication of this connection means people in many disciplines, including peace studies, health care or religion can learn different ways to attain selflessness, to experience transcendence, and to help themselves and others.

This study, along with other recent neuroradiological studies of Buddhist meditators and Francescan nuns, suggests that all individuals, regardless of cultural background or religion, experience the same neuropsychological functions during spiritual experiences, such as transcendence. Transcendence, feelings of universal unity and decreased sense of self, is a core tenet of all major religions. Meditation and prayer are the primary vehicles by which such spiritual transcendence is achieved.

“The brain functions in a certain way during spiritual experiences,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. “We studied people with brain injury and found that people with injuries to the right parietal lobe of the brain reported higher levels of spiritual experiences, such as transcendence.”

This link is important, Johnstone said, because it means selflessness can be learned by decreasing activity in that part of the brain. He suggests this can be done through conscious effort, such as meditation or prayer. People with these selfless spiritual experiences also are more psychologically healthy, especially if they have positive beliefs that there is a God or higher power who loves them, Johnstone said.

“This research also addresses questions regarding the impact of neurologic versus cultural factors on spiritual experience,” Johnstone said. “The ability to connect with things beyond the self, such as transcendent experiences, seems to occur for people who minimize right parietal functioning. This can be attained through cultural practices, such as intense meditation or prayer or because of a brain injury that impairs the functioning of the right parietal lobe. Either way, our study suggests that ‘selflessness’ is a neuropsychological foundation of spiritual experiences.”

The research was funded by the MU Center on Religion and the Professions. The study – “Support for a neuropsychological model of spirituality in persons with traumatic brain injury” – was published in the peer-reviewed journal Zygon.

“Our research focused on the personal experience of spiritual transcendence and does not in any way minimize the importance of religion or personal beliefs, nor does it suggest that spiritual experience are related only to neuropsychological activity in the brain,” Johnstone said. “It is important to note that individuals experience their God or higher power in many different ways, but that all people from all religions and beliefs appear to experience these connections in a similar way.”